(Originally posted on Monday, June 15, 2009)
“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’ ”
— Harmon Killebrew (Professional Baseball Player)
Raising children is almost a full-time job FOR BOTH PARENTS! The constant issue in raising kids is this: Do we preserve our things (environment, house, etc.) or do we focus on the needs of our kids (including their exploration even though it may damage some of that environment)? We must hand it to those single parents who cope with these trials alone and succeed. So, what is our task?
I think that the parents main task is to nurture child and help him/her to develop their own abilities, including those related to self-control. We have all had the experience of going into a restaurant for a peaceful dinner only to encounter an undisciplined child sitting at the next table or booth. The child cries, screams, throws tantrums in an effort to get attention and/or get his/her way. This is not only an American phenomenon, we encountered this on our journeys through England, especially on the trains. It is interesting that in Germany, where parents take their children out, are prepared with toys and give their children attention during the outing; we didn’t see disruptive behavior of children in public there.
So what are we to do? We, as parents and especially we men as fathers, need to learn to identify our children’s needs. By attending to their being tired, hungry, and/or in need of activity, will start to provide appropriate responses to our children. This may, as in the case of the quote above, involve the temporary destruction of some things around us; grass can be replaced or regrown, but a love, confidence, feelings of belonging are not as easily replaced after being ‘damaged’ by neglect or abuse. Let us men, as fathers, take on the responsibility of providing that nurturing environment for our children, of loving them, of providing them with all the reasonable opportunities in life that will enable them to grow up into reasonably happy and functional adults.
Let’s not try to live out the childhoods that we did not have or pass the abuse from our own parents onto our kids. They are precious and deserve to become beautiful human beings. And, just maybe, they will treat us in the same way when roles become reversed in our elder years!
May we all have the privilege of hearing:
“Dad, you’re someone to look up to no matter how tall I’ve grown”
— Author Unknown